October 13, 2006
Federal, Provincial and Territorial
Ministers Responsible for
Justice Make Commitments to Strengthen Criminal Justice System
(Humber Valley) - Federal, provincial and territorial
(FPT) ministers responsible for justice concluded their meeting today,
after substantive discussions on key issues currently facing Canada�s
justice system, such as legal aid funding, drugs, sentencing, youth
justice and organized crime. Ministers noted the need for greater
collaboration and for investments to ensure public security and advance
their common goals.
The meeting was co-chaired by the Minister of Justice
and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Vic Toews, the Minister
of Public Safety, the Honourable Stockwell Day and the Minister of
Justice and Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador, the
Honourable Tom Marshall.
Provincial and territorial ministers again stressed, through unanimous
resolution, the need for continued, increased and long-term federal
funding for criminal legal aid and new funding for civil legal aid. They
also requested a return to the former 50/50
federal/provincial-territorial funding formula.
Aware of the priority placed on ongoing funding,
ministers agreed to continue working in partnership to develop options
for legal aid in the future, while identifying efficiencies in the
Recognizing the need to collectively re-examine current approaches,
ministers asked senior officials to conduct a detailed examination of
additional measures proposed by the provinces to assist the fight
against organized crime.
Ministers supported the continued planning of a
National Ministerial Forum to be held in spring 2007 to address the
scope and implications of organized crime in Canada and their collective
response to date, and to learn from the first-hand experiences of
domestic and international partners.
Enforcement of Capital Market Fraud
Ministers noted the importance of the security and protection of
Canada�s capital markets and agreed to establish a working group of
officials, including police, securities regulators and prosecutors, to
review ways to improve enforcement and report back to them at their next
The Recommendations on Bail Reform from the
Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials (CCSO), which address a
variety of important issues raised by FPT forums in recent years, were
approved for implementation where appropriate, or referred to the FPT
Working Group on Criminal Procedure for further development, policy work
Affirming that the increase in remand counts across Canada is a concern,
ministers expressed the need for continued collaboration to identify
best practices and potential solutions to the growing concern with
remand pressures. Ministers also discussed the current Criminal Code
provisions allowing courts to give credit for time served when deciding
custodial sentence length, and considered some options that would
clarify the use of these provisions.
Ministers discussed the challenges faced by law enforcement today and
agreed to work together to address capacity issues such as recruitment
and retention that are important to police services across the country.
Ministers also shared their views on the federal
government�s proposal to put 2,500 more police officers in communities
across Canada. Ministers were assured that further consultations will
take place with the provinces and territories taking into account
respective policing needs.
Youth Criminal Justice Act
Several provincial and territorial ministers reiterated their calls for
action to address issues and concerns related to pre-trial detention and
custody sentencing provisions for youth under the Youth Criminal
Justice Act (YCJA). Ministers also noted that the results of the
Nunn Commission of Inquiry into the death of Theresa McEvoy will be
available later this fall.
The federal Justice Minister committed to legislative
action to include deterrence and denunciation as sentencing principles.
The working group will continue to examine options regarding pre-trial
detention and other recommendations. The minister also indicated a
commitment to early legislative action in some areas and a long-term
review of the act. Reforms would take into account the unique
characteristics of each province and territory.
Ministers noted the Prime Minister�s announcement on the upcoming
introduction of legislation to provide tougher sentences and more
effective management of individuals convicted of sexual or violent
offences. Provincial and territorial ministers expressed interest, once
the details of the bill are known, to work collaboratively to forward
suggestions for improvements, as required. In addition, they suggested
that the breach of long-term supervision orders should make one eligible
for an application for dangerous offender designation.
They also recognized the need to ensure rapid
information exchanges between AMBER Alert programs and quick responses
in cross-border abduction cases and endorsed the importance of a
collaborative approach to this system. They directed officials to report
back with recommendations for an interprovincial AMBER Alert Protocol.
Criminal Justice Reform
Provincial and territorial ministers expressed general support for the
objectives of the federal government�s crime and safety agenda/reforms.
Federal Ministers noted that these initiatives responded to the concerns
of Canadians and to requests of provinces and territories for law
reform. Provincial and territorial ministers highlighted that to ensure
the success of proposed law reforms, greater investments in policing,
courts and correction were necessary given the cost and operational
impact of the reforms. Federal ministers acknowledged these concerns and
agreed to participate in ongoing discussions regarding the cost and
operational impact of the reforms and discuss strategies to assist
provinces and territories to implement these reforms. Federal ministers
undertook to raise the cost implications with federal colleagues.
While generally supporting the direction of the
reform, the Province of Quebec has expressed its disagreement concerning
the exclusion from conditional sentences of crimes against property in
Ministers agreed in principle to the concept of a missing persons index
and directed the FPT Working Group to work to resolve key ongoing
concerns and to report back to FPT deputy ministers at their next
meeting in January 2007.
Provinces and territories asked the federal ministers
to bring forward FPT concerns on a Missing Persons Index in
Parliamentary discussions of Bill C-279.
Ministers recognized the importance of this serious problem, approved
the Methamphetamine Report prepared by the Coordinating Committee of
Senior Officials (CCSO) Drug Issues Working Group, asked officials to
take steps for publication of the report and consider how best to
implement key recommendations.
Proceeds of Crime
Ministers referred to the unanimous provincial-territorial resolution of
November 2005 calling on the federal Minister of Justice to amend the
Criminal Code to provide for the application of reverse onus, as set out
in section 462.37, to other offences likely to generate proceeds of
crime, when the Attorney General has proven that over the last 10 years
the offender has engaged in a pattern of
criminal activity for the purpose of providing him with material
benefit, or that the offender�s legitimate income cannot reasonably
account for the value of all the property of the offender. The federal
Minister of Justice indicated his support.
Ministers asked the CCSO Working Group
on Proceeds of Crime to complete its work rapidly to
find the best way to enhance the reverse onus provisions of the
Criminal Code respecting the proceeds of crime regime.
The federal Minister of Justice took the opportunity of the meeting to
indicate that he will pursue new initiatives for victims of crimes,
including the establishment of a Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime
for matters within federal jurisdictions. The federal minister noted
that he will ensure that this new office respects the jurisdiction of
the provinces and will not duplicate existing provincial and territorial
institutions and programs.
Provincial and territorial ministers asked for a share
of the federal funding.
Streamlining Criminal Justice
Ministers discussed options for streamlining the
administration of justice, including the hybridization of certain
offences and reform of preliminary inquires. They referred these issues
to the Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials (CCSO) Working Group
on Criminal Procedures and asked it to report back at the earliest
opportunity. As well, ministers accepted the Report on Early Case
Consideration from the Steering Committee on Justice Efficiencies, and
asked the committee, as a next step, to study the issues of jury reform
and the use of technology in the courtroom.
Ministers discussed the prevalence and impact of cyber crime in today�s
society and asked their officials to continue to work on the development
of initiatives and approaches to address this important issue.
Ministers also agreed that CCSO officials continue to
explore proposals for businesses to disclose breaches of personal
information security and to address offences for on-line grooming,
identity theft and fraud.
Ministers endorsed the need to amend the Criminal Code in an
effort to strengthen impaired driving prosecutions. In particular,
ministers supported amendments that would restrict the use of "evidence
to the contrary" to scientifically valid defences.
All ministers acknowledged the importance of addressing Aboriginal
justice issues as a priority. Ministers discussed challenges in the area
of Aboriginal justice and the need to build on the positive results of
the Aboriginal Justice Strategy. Provincial and territorial ministers
tabled a resolution that emphasized the importance of continuing to fund
and significantly increase levels of federal funding related to
Aboriginal justice. They asked the federal Minister of Justice to work
with provinces and territories to develop a memorandum of understanding
that would establish parameters of FPT collaboration and federal funding
to address Aboriginal needs.
Ministers agreed to direct officials to review the issue of fugitives
who flee to other provinces or territories to escape criminal
proceedings in their home jurisdiction. Ministers have requested
recommendations on best practices and protocols between provinces and
territories, and to review the potential role of the federal government
in addressing this issue.
Ministers received a status report on the issue of missing women in
Canada, and endorsed continuing efforts to improve the prevention, early
identification of cases, enforcement and prosecution of these cases and
to identify good practices for dealing with the families of victims.
Self Defence Provisions in the
Ministers agreed it was time to review the self-defence sections of the
Criminal Code and directed officials to examine proposals to clarify
the law and bring back recommendations.